CLOSE

Now Commenting On:

Hard eighth: Rangers' bullpen collapses

Hard eighth: Rangers' bullpen collapses

ARLINGTON -- Left-hander Darren Oliver, the veteran of the Rangers' bullpen, had a hard time explaining it.

"I don't think I could do that again even if I tried," Oliver said. "That was ugly."

Rangers starter C.J. Wilson compared it to an old Twilight Zone episode.

More

"That's what it was," Wilson said. "We were all kind of like pacing in the dugout because it was kind of surreal anyway."

The eighth inning of Game 1 of the American League Championship Series on Friday will not be something the Rangers will be able to forget that easily. They had a 5-1 lead going into the frame, but the Yankees rallied for five runs against Wilson and four relievers for a 6-5 victory.

"I don't know if we gave it away," manager Ron Washington said. "We just didn't execute. When you face a team like the Yankees, you've got to execute. It certainly was our ballgame, especially when you just need six outs. We didn't get them."


It lasted 35 minutes. The Rangers used five pitchers. They faced 10 hitters and threw 44 pitches. They allowed five runs on five hits and three walks.

Wilson was on the mound to start the inning. Brett Gardner, the Yankees' No. 9 hitter, led off with a grounder to first baseman Jorge Cantu and outraced Wilson, who was covering the bag, diving in for an infield single.

"I stepped on his hand," Wilson said. "I mean, that's what he's good at, hitting little choppers and beating them out, you know? He's not going to drive the ball out of the ballpark, he's scrappy and he doesn't have to hit the ball hard to disrupt the game."

Elite eighth
Down four runs entering the eighth inning, the Yankees sent 10 men to the plate and scored five times to win Game 1 of the American League Championship Series.
Pitchers Five
Hits Five
Extra-base hits One
Runs Five
Walks Three
Batters 10
Pitches 44
Time 35:17

Derek Jeter followed with a double into the left-field corner, making it a 5-2 game. That's when Washington pulled Wilson and brought in Oliver to face switch-hitters Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira.

"He had worked awfully hard," Washington said. "He had done a good job to that point. Swisher and Teixeira coming up and I felt like I needed to let him leave right there and bring in the bullpen."

Oliver, who averaged 2.2 walks per nine innings during the season, ended up walking both Swisher and Teixeira to load the bases.

"I can't remember the last time I walked two batters in a row," Oliver said.

"If Oliver comes in and throws strikes, it is a different story," Washington said.

Washington then brought in side-arming right-hander Darren O'Day to face Alex Rodriguez. He threw him one pitch. Rodriguez smashed one just to the left of third baseman Michael Young, who tried to side-swipe it on the short hop as it zipped by him. He couldn't make the play, and it went for a two-run single.

"I would have loved to have made the play," Young said. "I don't know if I could have, but he hit it hard and it took a tricky hop. I'm not going to lose any sleep over it."

O'Day was gone after one pitch. Clay Rapada, who was added to the postseason roster before the game with this very situation in mind, was brought in for a lefty-vs.-lefty matchup with Robinson Cano.

At no time did Washington consider using Neftali Feliz, his closer, not when he was still six outs away from the end.

"He's never done anything like that," Washington said of the 22-year-old rookie. "I wouldn't do that. I had the people I wanted in the game. They didn't get it done. It happens."

Rapada threw one pitch. Cano hit it into center field for a single that tied the game. That was it for Rapada. Derek Holland, another left-hander, was brought in to face Marcus Thames. But Thames singled to left, and the Rangers were down one run. That's the way it ended.

"Those are the guys I wanted in there," Washington said. "Darren Oliver has been nails for us. Just walked two guys. Wasn't Darren Oliver. Just didn't happen tonight. That eighth inning just killed us out of the bullpen."

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Less